Champion of Champions: Ayrton Senna vs Michael Schumacher

Champion of Champions Final: Senna vs Schumacher

Champion of ChampionsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Champion of Champions: Ayrton Senna vs Michael Schumacher

After almost 20,000 votes, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher have been drawn against each other in the Champion of Champions Grand Final.

In a way it’s quite appropriate, as it presents one of the great unanswered questions of modern Formula 1.

Namely, how the 1994 season would have played out had Senna not lost his life at Imola three races in. And how much longer these two would have gone on fighting for race victories and championship titles.

Their achievements in Formula 1 are sufficiently well known (and have been covered earlier in this series several times already) that they hardly require repeating.

It’s down to you to pick which of these drivers stands out among F1’s 32 title winners as the Champion of Champions.

Cast your vote below and explain who you voted for and why in the comments.

Ayrton Senna Michael Schumacher
Ayrton Senna, McLaren, Hockenheimring, 2004 Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, Hockenheimring, 2004
Titles 1988, 1990, 1991 1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
Second in title year/s Alain Prost, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell Damon Hill, Damon Hill, Mika Hakkinen, David Coulthard, Rubens Barrichello, Kimi R??ikk??nen, Rubens Barrichello
Teams Toleman, Lotus, McLaren, Williams Jordan, Benetton, Ferrari, Mercedes
Notable team mates Alain Prost, Gerhard Berger, Mika Hakkinen Nelson Piquet, Eddie Irvine, Rubens Barrichello
Starts 161 268
Wins 41 (25.47%) 91 (33.96%)
Poles 65 (40.37%) 68 (25.37%)
Modern points per start1 11.68 14.05
% car failures2 20.50 8.21
Modern points per finish3 14.70 15.30
Notes Won three titles in four years with McLaren Missed several races in 1999 after breaking his leg at Silverstone
Controversial clash with Prost sealed second title Retired in 2006 after 11 seasons with Ferrari
Killed in third race for Williams in 1994 Returned with Mercedes in 2010
Bio Ayrton Senna Michael Schumacher

1 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of races they started
2 The percentage of races in which they were not classified due to a mechanical failure
3 How many points they scored in their career, adjusted to the 2010 points system, divided by the number of starts in which they did not suffer a race-ending mechanical failure

Which was the better world champion driver?

  • Ayrton Senna (54%)
  • Michael Schumacher (41%)

Total Voters: 806

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Third place play-off

In true World Cup fashion there’s also a play-off for third place:

Which was the better world champion driver?

  • Alain Prost (45%)
  • Juan Manuel Fangio (51%)

Total Voters: 715

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You need an F1 Fanatic account to vote. Register an account here or read more about registering here.

Read the F1 Fanatic Champion of Champions introduction for more information.

These polls close on February 13th.

Champion of Champions – voting so far

Champion of Champions table
Champion of Champions table (click to enlarge)

Thanks to Emory McGinnis for producing the Champion of Champions table.

Champion of Champions

Browse all Champion of Champions articles

Images ?? Honda (Senna), Ferrari spa (Schumacher)

450 comments on “Champion of Champions Final: Senna vs Schumacher”

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  1. Unfortunately the two drivers in the third-fourth place vote should have been in the first-second place vote. Fangio should have won, as I am not aware of him doing something dastardly in his racing career. Senna, Schumacher and Prost all did, especially Senna and Schumacher.

    1. Fangio demanded that other drivers get out of their car so that he could race…!

      On track, prost was the cleanest of the four I would say, although with the lack of technology available, I admit it is difficult to rate fangio

      1. Fangio did not demand anything…its the way things were done at the time, and the driver being asked to hand over his car usually had the right of refusal.

  2. Why do we have to decide between these two? It is like trying to pick between you two favorite beers. Impossible to choose because we may and do love them for different reasons. Senna, so much passion, anything to win, always on the limit. Schumacher, calculating, always able to perform at his best when he needed to do so. Both were able to do with different teams, and had to pay their dues(unlike some people today, i.e. Hamilton) in lesser teams. Senna was taken from the sport to early, and there will always be what ifs, which gives him this mystical allure. Having said that, you can always look at what Schumacher has accomplished, his records are staggering. Cheers to them both. I cannot decide. I don’t think we have to decide. Lets love them both for they are, different, and the same.

    1. As Keith said in the beginning of this series, it’s quite difficult to compare drivers of different eras. And in this case even though their careers overlapped, Schumi and Senna belong to different eras. So one can’t be completely fair in judging between the two.

      That said, it’s amusing to pick an “overall” winner during this surprisingly silly “silly season”. It also throws up facts about drivers we wouldn’t have known before.

  3. 104-105 with my vote being 105th one for Fangio! Wow :D

  4. My vote goes to Senna, but it was very close.

  5. That said, if Michael wins another championship before he retires, he is the greatest of all time.

    1. He’ll be lucky to stand on the podium one more time

      1. He did badly and got 3 4ths. Of course he’ll reach the podium.

  6. Greatest ever racing driver: Senna, by a mile

    Schumacher: greatest ever cheat who made it to the top!

    1. you’re joking?

      what? you discovered F1 yesterday, by hearing someone talking about Senna? just the talented Senna… not also the reckless one ore the cheating one… 90’s Suzuka rings any bell for instance ???

      1. Yeah, he is joking. His point is simply too funny for it to be anything otherwise.

  7. Without any hesitation whatsoever- Schumacher.

  8. A rather predictable finale 2

    but look how close it is for 3rd place!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. I’ll vote for none of them. One is a fad, the other a cad. Prost, Lauda, Clark, Stewart deserved the honour. Not these two.

  10. For all people who never watched who the best is…


    First lap, EUROPEAN GP Donington Park 1993 period!

    After that, you’re free to vote.

    1. I’ll see your Donington Park 1993 and I’ll raise you Catalunya 1996 ;)

      1. Hahaha, thats like saying I’ll raise your Big Mac combo with a Happy Meal.

        1. No, not really ;)

          1. Big Mac combo supersized with a side of nuggets?

          2. No, you’re underestimating Schumacher’s drive in Barcelona.

        2. Not quite. I bet the F310 was way worse than the FW18 than the MP4/8 was worse than the FW15C. McLaren finished 2nd to Williams in ’93, comfortably ahead of Benetton. Ferrari just scraped ahead of Benetton in ’96

      2. Or Monaco 2006

        1. Gaining 17 places on race day- not half bad, eh? ;)

    2. I’m in, 1996 Spain :S

  11. Schumacher it is. He didn’t just take the best offer from the top teams and let them build the cars. He choose Ferrari and build them up step by step. For a driver who could basically choose any seat he wanted i think that was very remarkable.
    I don’t really want to comment on who was the better driver, because they when they raced together they did so in very different stages of their careers. But what i think is the reason Senna looked like the best racing driver of all time (which he might well be) is because when you are the best in a pack of drivers who first of all started driving later then the competition did in Schumacher’s era, which i think makes it fair enough to assume that they were not as good drivers, generally of cause. Schumacher shined though in cars that were safer, easier to drive, TC and much more downforce etc., were rather special. On the time table Senna looked like he was better because he blew the others away with 1,5 seconds in qualifying at times, but when the cars are easier to drive, the gaps becomes smaller and it becomes harder to see who is the really great driver, and who is just an average driver, which might be a pretty harsh word for F1 drivers, but you know what i mean.
    So i chose Schumacher mainly because of the way he dominated F1 year after year.

  12. This was perhaps the easiest vote for me yet, and yes I watched both drivers race to the peak of their careers. I’d say they were both equally matched for on track selfishness, ruthlessness, the willingness to take risks, the determination to win and driving ability.

    So which driver did it better?

    If MSC just had say 4 WDC’s then it would have been a bit more difficult to choose. A 7 to 3 difference is a bit hard to ignore.

  13. You can’t deny that both drivers were awesome the way the put a race car around a track, both were relentless in the way they went about things to win (sometimes taking people off the track) both worked their way up from smaller teams which is always a reflection of talent. Senna-well we will never know what he was capable of in terms of championships but in terms of a human he was that and then some, but Suzuka 1990 plays in my mind and will always be remembered when he didn’t let the racing do the talking. His death just makes his story more fascinating. Schumacher- a perfectionist, fast and aggressive, intimidating, always knew who was boss. Numerous incidents, including parking his car at Monaco qualifying sticks in my mind, an opportunist? yes, no question. His first year comeback has fallen short and takes off the edge to his past numbers.

    It’s a tough call, Senna just.

  14. You all Senna blind fans, I’ll also tell you that Schu’s as equally fast as Senna at least, and he always was the fastest when it most needed to be in a race… for instance:

    1995 Europe (Benetton)
    A brilliant victory at the Nurburgring that summed up his second championship-winning year with Benetton. In another wet race, Michael came out from his final pit stop 24 seconds behind leader Jean Alesi (Ferrari) with just 16 laps to go. It would have been game over for most, but not for the German who sensationally reeled the Italian in before overtaking around the outside in to the final chicane with only a handful of laps remaining.

    1998 Hungary (Ferrari)
    The race where Ross Brawn famously told his star driver that all he had to do to win was build a 25 second lead in just 19 laps before his final pit stop. As difficult a task as you are likely to get in F1, made harder by the fact that your rivals have the fastest car! But a nifty switch of strategy and a relentless sequence of qualifying-style laps from the German were enough to take the most unlikely of victories.

    2004 France (Ferrari)
    Another Schumacher-Brawn masterpiece, this time at Magny-Cours midway through Michael?s record-breaking 2004 season.
    Ferrari decided to switch Schumacher from his originally planned three stops to an extraordinary four to try and jump the Spaniard.
    In a virtual re-run of his exploits at the Hungaroring some six years before, Schumacher?s unrivalled ability to suddenly up the pace when it matters paid dividends again as he put in a stunning sequence of fast laps in the final two stints of the race to get one over on his future rival.

    …and there are much more, the idea is that Michael could be fast, especially when it needed the most, under pressure, in the fire of a race…

    Michael is the greatest! Period.

    But on the other hand Senna was the biggest natural talent to ever JUST DRIVE a F1 car. It sounds a bit contrare, but you know what I mean. :)

    1. You do know you’re fighting a fight you cannot win yeah? Not through the basis of your argument but you’re debating with people you’ve never met, never will meet and don’t know what they look like.

      Give up mate, you’re borderline preaching. Respect peoples point of vie and move on. How many words have you typed today, and for what?

      1. He has build an argument…instead of just saying, this is the way it is!…which seems to me, is what you are doing… selfrefelction is sadly not a quallity all people posess…

        1. Neither is spelling by the looks of things.

      2. Give up mate, you’re borderline preaching.

        By pointing out three perfectly good examples of superb drives by the German?

  15. Michael Schumacher scored his very first pole position rite after Ayrton’s death.

    1. And he achieved his very first win before that. And his second, third and fourth wins.

  16. Senna & Prost.

    Namely, how the 1994 season would have played out had Senna not lost his life at Imola three races in.

    Had Senna not lost his life that day, I believe the following would have played out. Schumacher won the 1994 championship by the smallest of margins to Hill. Are we saying that Senna is the same as Hill? No, therefore Senna would have won 1994. That would have swung the momentum and confidence towards Senna & Williams, rather than Schumacher and Benetton, therefore Senna takes 1995 as well. That makes Senna 5 x WDC and Schumacher 0. Taking the performance that the Williams had during 1996 & 1997, Senna would have snatched those 2 as well. 0 championships to Schumacher and his possie means no trips to Ferrari who remain in the doldrums. Senna 7xWDC, Schumacher zero.

    Prost has one championship less than Fangio. So? Senna had one less than Prost and that didn’t stop him. No, Prost is 4 times WDC, but by all accounts was soooo close to 3 more (’83, ’84 & ’88).

    So, in my book, Senna 7xWDC & Prost 7xWDC, the greatest drivers in Formula 1 History. I’m going to give them both 1988, as Senna won it under the regulations, but Prost scored more points in total.

    ps. Schumacher zero.

    pps. I’m hoping Schumacher makes it 8 before the end of 2013.

    1. Re. 1994, you’ve quite conveniently forgotten that Schumacher effectively competed only in 12 rounds out of 16. It wasn’t as close as you make it out to be. Yes there still are questions about how legal the B194 was, but it was never proved whether the launch control was ever used.

      1. Senna or Hill, Schumi still would have been excluded from those 4 races. History has shown the lengths Schumi’s management at the time (Briatore & Simmonds) would go to, so justifiably excluded IMO.

        1. you’re also forgetting that at some point Senna would have retired.

          I don’t think Senna would have won the 1995 championship. The Benneton (can’t remember the spelling) was a better car than the Williams.

          1. Yeah, I was thinking after his 7th in ’97.

            Sure but maybe, with the momentum being in their favour and with Senna’s input, the Williams could have been a lot closer if not better than the Benetton.

    2. There is no guarantee that Senna would have won anything else though.

  17. Well its the battle of the flawed champions and the two prominant categories of F1 fans – Senna vs Schumacher.

    On a side note one thing that amazes me is they never drove for the same team and between them drove for a large number of the major teams of F1 history.

    Me, I choose Senna, I always will. Senna through his natural talent and determination. Schumacher has that also, yes, but to see it in an era where dependence on technology was not as great made the viewing more of a pleasure and this talent and determination more evident. Sennas driving ability attracted people to the sport. Schumacher being in the best car for 5 years drove people away from the sport. That said you cannot fault Schumacher for this as he was put in a situation every driver dreams of and made the most of it.

    The topic of respect and ethics has come up a lot. The way I see it, F1 drivers are the most competitive people out there – victory is priority. People will say Stirling Moss was an successful ethical driver, but I ask the question – how has he gone in the Champion of Champions?

  18. Both were dirty drivers but Senna cheated less to get his stats.

    1. that’s a little harsh, the way some talk about two legends.
      Why some fans have to put down the driver they vote against.
      Both were awesome. personally choose senna, but i can understand that some people vote for schumi.
      The decision it’s mostly personal.

      1. It’s a major differential.

        You agree it is a personal decision yet you want to ignore the most significant reason people dislike Schumacher.

        It is the reason that quite a number will not be voting Schumacher. It’s what makes him a flawed and lesser champion.

        1. Some will consider those reasons, and then have them cancelled out and far exceeded by the positive stuff.

  19. Senna was so good at building a team around him that after Prost left McLaren became shortly the second force in the championship to Williams and, after that, the performance droped even more. What did Senna do? Run to Williams as they had the best car. My guess is that the ’94 McLaren was built with some input for Senna- it was a bad car.
    I know that it was a transitional period for them but in a similar period for Ferrari Schumacher fought for the titles and the car improved all the time.

  20. You Senna lovers will always believe that he is the best even though truth be told he went to far and lost his life trying to become the myth that he was.
    It seems that the fans will forever continue the fable of his accomplishments but in the end no one will ever approach what MICHAEL SCHUMACHER has done in Formula One.

    1. That’s harsh, dude. You can’t blame the man if his steering column fails on the deadliest weekend in recent F1 history.

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